Candy's or Candies? New school’s name leaves some confused

By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
Posted 4/21/19

Candy’s Creek Cherokee Elementary School, the newest school within the Cleveland City Schools district, is well on its way to opening this fall. However, the name’s spelling has caused confusion for some used to seeing the name Candies Creek in Cleveland. 

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Candy's or Candies? New school’s name leaves some confused

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Candy’s Creek Cherokee Elementary School, the newest school within the Cleveland City Schools district, is well on its way to opening this fall. However, the name’s spelling has caused confusion for some used to seeing the name Candies Creek in Cleveland. 

Lisa Earby, principal of the new school, said “there have been many” people asking about the spelling of the name months before the school is even open. 

The new school is located off Georgetown Road/Highway 60 in an area marked by rich history — and signs for places with a similar name but a different spelling. 

“The Board of Education voted in May 2016 to name the school for the Candy’s Creek Cherokee Indian Mission that was in our area until 1836 when the Cherokees were removed starting the Trail of Tears,” Earby said. “The entire area was called Candy’s Creek until the late 1800s, when the U.S. Geographical Board required all U.S. areas to change the ‘y’s’ to ‘ies’ to provide uniformity in names.”

She added the Cleveland Board of Education “voted specifically to keep the original spelling of the name to honor the Cherokee heritage of our area.” 

Ever since the name has been announced, members of the public have questioned the spelling. One reader recently wrote in an email to Cleveland Daily Banner editors that “everyone who has been in Cleveland any length of time knows that Candies Creek is spelled ‘Candies,’ not ‘Candy’s!’”

“Do your homework,” she urged. “There is Candies Creek Baptist Church, Candies Creek, Candies Creek Ridge Road, Candies Creek Cemetery, Candies Creek Academy, etc. And I fervently hope that the new school doesn’t get the reputation of having a misspelled word in its title!”

Dr. Murl Dirksen, professor of sociology and anthropology at Lee University, was serving on the Cleveland Board of Education when the school was named. He described how those who came up with the name did, in fact, do their homework. 

Though some initially said the name was “maybe a little bit long,” Dirksen said it was based on research he and others did on the history of the school’s location. 

According to school board minutes, others who presented the board with historical research included Brian Reed, associate professor of history at Cleveland State Community College, and Debbie Moore, Vice President of the Bradley County Historical & Genealogy Society. 

“I don’t think there was any comment about the spelling, because the name is pretty well-documented in the historical record,” Dirksen said. 

The connection between the Candy’s Creek Cherokee Elementary name and the area’s history “can be made on several different levels,” he added. 

One connection is to a man named Henry Candy. He moved to the Cherokee Territory following the treaty in 1817, and his was one of many Cherokee families in the area. 

Because the creek was a prominent environmental feature in the area, the settlement where the family lived was called the Candy’s Creek community. A government census completed 1835 — before the Trail of Tears — makes mention of the Candy family and refers to the community as the Candy’s Creek community.  

In 1824, when Christian missionaries from the Brainerd Mission in what is now Chattanooga decided to build a church and school for the Cherokee people in what is today part of Cleveland, they named it the Candy’s Cheek Cherokee Indian Mission.

Removal records report that Rev. Scott Foreman left for Oklahoma in October of 1838 from Candy’s Creek camp with 838 Cherokees and that 56 deaths occurred on the way. Dirksen added Candy’s Creek is the official name of the community in all the historical documents.

Archeologists who have studied the history of Bradley County’s oldest inhabitants refer to their culture as “Eastern Woodland culture,” or “Candy’s Creek culture,”  he added. 

“Naming of Cleveland’s new elementary school by the Cleveland City School Board is intended to celebrate the legacy of the Cherokee in Bradley County and southeastern Tennessee,” Dirksen said “The spelling is NO mistake!”

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